cover image The Beggar King: 
A Hangman’s Daughter Tale

The Beggar King: A Hangman’s Daughter Tale

Oliver Pötzsch, trans. from the German by Lee Chadeayne. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Mariner, $18 trade paper (512p) ISBN 978-0-547-99219-8

Pötzsch’s brilliant third mystery set in 17th-century Germany (after 2012’s The Dark Monk), has Jakob Kuisl, hangman (and garbage collector) of Schongau, accused of murder in the Free City of Regensburg, where he has gone to visit his ailing sister. Meanwhile, Kuisl’s fiercely independent daughter, Magdalena, an apprentice midwife, accuses master baker Michael Berchtholdt of both impregnating his maid and fatally poisoning her with ergot in an attempt to induce an abortion. Passions against Magdalena run so high that she and her lover, Simon Fronwieser, must flee Schongau. Unaware of her father’s jeopardy, Magdalena and Simon head to Regensburg, where they end up racing to exonerate Kuisl and discover the truth behind the murder, which turns out to have wider implications. The author sustains suspense throughout, and both old and new readers will eagerly await the next volume. (Jan.)